Health Mental health Anxiety, Depression and me By Scott Pearson I now realise it isn’t something I can cure, but I can do a lot more to help myself. If you were to ask me what feeling I felt most when I was a child, I would say panic. Not panic because I was scared of anyone or anything in particular (I come from a very loving family) but I just always felt like I was on high alert that something, anything, was going to go wrong. I was a sensitive child who enjoyed solitude, preferring my own company over that of others. I favoured indoors to outdoors and despite being capable, I never really excelled in any one thing because my attention span was so erratic I suffered high definition, surround sound night terrors accompanied by hallucinations until the age of 12, and when I moved to senior school I would involuntarily retch every morning until I vomited due to the panic of what the day in store held. At 15, my family experienced a life-changing event, resulting in the subject of mental health being a household topic; it was at this time I realised that something was ‘off’ with my own. By 18 everything felt heavy, like the weight of the world was resting on my shoulders and Dumbo was sitting on my chest. I reached a breaking point and going to see my GP became a necessity - within a very short space of time I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, put on antidepressants (Citalopram) and started my first round of therapy. It was bittersweet because on the one hand I was so pleased to finally have an answer, but by this point I genuinely couldn’t see a way out. It took some time, but eventually I broke the cycle and before long I felt ‘better’, so I recklessly took myself off the tablets and abandoned therapy before finishing the full course. What I didn’t realise, though, is that in order for things to change, I had to put in the work and see things through to the end; no matter how uncomfortable they made me. The tablets had done a great job at taking the edge off and providing me with the mental capacity to see that change was possible, but because I hadn’t finished my therapy sessions, I was left with little to no coping strategies to support me longer term. One of my favourite quotes from the author Matt Haig’s book Reasons To Stay Alive is: “I was better. I was better. But it only takes a doubt. A drop of ink falls into a clear glass of water and clouds the whole thing.” This couldn’t be truer of my experience. Within a year those drops of ink were falling into my glass of clear water at a pace that I couldn’t keep up with. Before long my glass was filled with thick black liquid and I couldn’t cope. The only coping mechanism I knew, was alcohol. Instead of learning to feel things and experience the emotion, I numbed myself with my favourite boys Laurent Perrier, Jack Daniels and Jim Bean. Since then, I have taken it upon myself to understand how the mind works and why this happens to me. I now realise it isn’t something I can cure, but I can do a lot more to help myself. I use therapy when I need it, I got sober and I listen to my body and hit the brakes when I feel a dark cloud heading my way. If you’re interested in learning more about how the mind works and why we think and feel the way we do, I strongly advise anyone to read The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steven Peters, it’s a great book that explains things in layman’s terms and has helped me so much. For World Mental Health Day my message is simple. If you are struggling, ask for help. Learn more about why you feel the way you do. Put in the work with a therapist. But don’t go through it alone. What Next? Support LGBT Foundation in Manchester, London Friend and ELOP offer online support and counselling for LGBTQ+ people. Switchboard is an LGBTQ+ helpline and its volunteers are also there to listen. The OutLife Forums are a non-judgemental LGBTQ+ space where you can talk to other people like you.